There are a number of different engine and gearbox options to choose from with the Puma. On the petrol front the entry-level option is a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine with 95PS and a six-speed manual. Above that you can have the same engine with a mild-hybrid boost and power output of 125PS with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic, or a 155PS version with the six-speed manual. As for diesel there’s just one engine, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder with 120PS. We went for the 155PS (114kW) petrol-hybrid with the six-speed manual, the most powerful and in theory the most fun Puma you can buy without getting behind the wheel of a Puma ST.
Ford is very good at building fun, thrummy little three-cylinders, and the top-spec engine in the Puma, with its hybrid boost, is actually quite spritely. There’s a 48-Volt lithium-ion battery and an 11.5kW belt-driven integrated starter/generator, which doesn’t just mean you can run many of the car’s systems at times when a non-mild-hybrid car would need to keep its engine running (the engine also turns off at moments you don’t expect it to, like pulling up, for example, which is both spooky and quite cool), but you get an extra little kick of torque when the engine’s turbos aren’t quite up to full boost. Zero to 62mph takes 9.0 seconds and the top speed is 127mph. On the economy front you should hope to see around 48mpg.
To its credit, the Puma doesn’t handle too dissimilarly to the Fiesta. It feels small, remarkably agile and is actually quite entertaining, with the added bonus of being a bit taller and having a bit more roll than the Fiesta, which adds some extra spice to the driving experience. That being said we were driving a Puma ST-Line X, which receives a sportier suspension setup with slightly stiffer springs and dampers. The steering feels Fiesta-like, too, as do the brakes, albeit with more pitch as you brake hard. There are five drive modes to choose from, namely Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Trail, which tweak the throttle response and steering weight.
What should be noted is that the gearbox doesn’t like to be hurried. The shift feel is good – something Ford is usually very good at – but if you really try to shift quickly there is a significant knock from deep within the drivetrain. Whether the gearbox doesn’t like a super-speedy change, or by doing so you’re causing the mild-hybrid powertrain a bit of an issue, I do not know, but take your time and everything feels just fine.